On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history. From the Pentagon and the World Trade Center to a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the attacks claimed 3,400 lives. The events of that day also ushered in a new era in U.S. foreign policy—an era that would result in thousands more U.S. deaths for decades to come.
Less than a month after the September 11 attacks, the war on terror began when US and NATO allies launched military strikes in Afghanistan. Then, in 2003, the war on terror escalated further when the US launched an invasion of Iraq.
Although the ongoing war on terror achieved several goals, including the assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and regime change in Iraq, the results came at a heavy price. Since the first American was killed in Afghanistan in October 2001, nearly 6,900 Americans – serving in military, intelligence and civilian capacities – from all 50 countries have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to reports, 254 Illinois people died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades, accounting for 3.7% of all deaths in the 50 states. Of these deaths, 165 were related to the war in Iraq and the remaining 89 to the war in Afghanistan. Not all those reported killed in these wars died in combat situations. Some of the deaths listed were caused by accidents such as plane crashes, as well as friendly fires, disease, and suicide.
The US Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey estimates that Illinois has 103,626 veterans who served in the post-9/11 era.
All death dates in this story were compiled by iCasualties, a website that tracks the death toll in the post-9/11 wars.
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